Is Draco Malfoy “evil”?

Is Draco Malfoy “evil”?

Draco Malfoy. Many of us absolutely hate him. Hermione voiced our thoughts in Prisoner of Azkaban when she called him a “foul, loathsome, evil, little cockroach!” It’s just natural; Rowling wrote this character so that it’s hard, impossible even, to like him.

Draco is racist, arrogant, and conceited; he’s full of himself and thinks he’s better than anyone because of his blood status and his family’s wealth. He bullies the Golden Trio to no end and succeeds in putting Slytherin House against them. He was also Umbridge’s minion, tried to kill Dumbledore, hurt Katie Bell, and became a Death Eater at age seventeen. Draco Malfoy seems to be evil to the core. Even his last name, “bad faith” in French, seethes with evilness. You could say he deserves all the hatred the fandom can muster. But… is this really the case? Is Draco really someone “evil”?

In my case, I now find it hard to hate this character. I think I understand him to some degree, and I pity him rather than despise him. If you take a look at the circumstances in which Draco grew up, it would be unrealistic to expect him to become something different. Most of his family was pureblood and believed that this fact made them superior to the rest. Many, including his own father, were Death Eaters. Draco grew up in an environment where all that mattered was blood and money. Also, unlike Harry, who was constantly mistreated by the Dursleys and thus grew to hate them, or Sirius, who grew up in similar conditions to Draco and hated his family and everything they represented, Draco seems to love his close family. He never showed any signs of having been mistreated by his parents; they appear to care about him, and despite feeling intimidated by his father, Draco cares for them. His parents, with all their flaws and prejudices, are role models for him. It’s not strange for this character to be so concerned about purity and wealth in the same way his parents were.

Sirius stood up against his own family during the First Wizarding War next to the other members of the Order of the Phoenix. He grew up in a similar environment to that of Draco; they are even related by blood. Apart from hating his family, Sirius had the chance to continue growing next to people who didn’t care about social status and purity when he became a Gryffindor at his arrival to Hogwarts. Draco didn’t have this opportunity. He became a Slytherin and continued interacting with people who had similar backgrounds and ideals to his, supporting the prejudices set by his parents and preventing him from snapping out of them easily.

In addition, Draco seems to be quite an insecure character. He is incredibly jealous of Harry, who is famous and loved by the wizarding world. In Chamber of Secrets, we hear from Lucius Malfoy just how much Draco complains about Harry and the rest of the Golden Trio. His friendship was rejected by Harry, whom he saw as a potential ally, on his first day of school. Harry isn’t just the object of his jealousy but also someone who hurt his pride. Draco is not used to being humiliated because where he grew up, people lived to serve him and fear his surname. Harry’s attitude toward him is like a slap to him. It’s no wonder that he harbors such hatred toward Harry and his friends.

Then, there’s the fact that Draco goes through a great deal of psychological pressure during the last two books of the series. People tend to mature and let go of their prejudices as they learn and grow up, but there’s no space for that in Draco’s life. His father is in jail, his family has been once again humiliated by Harry Potter, and the wizarding world is against him. When Draco becomes a Death Eater, he is a teenager filled with hatred and resentment. The Dark Lord himself has given him a mission with which he can bring back the “former glory” of his family. Plus, if he doesn’t succeed, Draco and the people he loves will be in trouble. It’s easy to think this character is plain evil, that he’s another bad guy to hate. But the last two books of the series show us the struggle he goes through as he tries to protect his family and obtain the Dark Lord’s approval by playing his part as a Death Eater. Rowling even shows us a trace of kindness when Draco claims not to recognize the Golden Trio after they have been brought to his manor by the Snatchers. In the end, I believe Draco Malfoy isn’t just another bad guy but a complex character going through a rough adolescence, another victim of the war.

  • Mich

    I definitely do not believe that Draco is evil. Sirius actually pointed out that the world is not divided between good people and death eaters. Draco was a jerk for many years, but I believe he got so lost in his family’s beliefs that he never really thought about if he believed them too. Once he was old enough to start thinking outside of his family, he was already part of something he never really joined. Yes, he agreed to be a death eater, but when confronted with the Dark Lord and the burdens of his family, he really didn’t have much of a choice. Not that his family influence is a complete excuse for how horrible he was, but it makes more sense that he would end up like he did, instead of like Sirius. Draco Malfoy is a jerk, but he is not evil.

  • Diagonotter

    As Mitch said, Sirius pointed out that the world is not decided between good people and death eaters. I think a ton of who he is has to do with his upbringing, of course, but once you are grown you have to take responsibility for who you are, regardless. All that said, I think he is most definitely not a good person, and fairly weak. At no point would he take a stand.

    For those who are just coming to HP reading age, or those living under a rock, Spoilers Ahead, proceed at your own peril.

    We see he has come to reality with the Muggle Studies teacher hanging in his dining room, and after this moment I wondered if we would see something of redemption in Malfoy… I was heartened when he chose not to ID Harry, Ron and Hermione when the were caught by snatchers, but then during the Battle of Hogwarts he only protected himself, and if he could help Riddle he would, to save his and his parents skins.

    We see adult Harry give ol Draco a affable nod, though we really don’t know how he has turned out. I make the assumption that they have had some positive interaction through the years and that must count for something.

  • phoenixflame22

    Perhaps evil is too strong of a word, but Malfoy is a ‘ba**ard’ for sure. Using the Sirius comparison works if Draco had gone to a house other than Slytherin. Both grew up in pureblood bigoted households, and yet Sirius had the courage to fight back. Draco wanted to be a ‘ba**ard’, he called Hermione a Mudblood, laughed when Buckbeak was seemingly killed, agreed to kill Dumbledore but just chickened out. He used the Imperious Curse on Rosmerta, attempted to use the Cruciatus on Harry and yet it seems was not punished.

    Malfoy got in over his head and panicked, but he choose his path. He didn’t have the courage to fight back. Also Harry wasn’t beloved by the wizarding world, he was loved one minute, then hated and called an attention seeking liar. Draco is a spoiled brat who thinks the world owes him something, and when things don’t go his way, he goes crying to daddy.

  • Rachael Hodgson

    He’s not evil. He lowered his wand when he was going to kill Dumbledore in HBP, and he appears to just be heavily influenced by his family’s beliefs. He is also presented as a weaker person than Sirius, appearing less confident and quick to react to insults. In the end, he reforms. As such, he’s just misguided, and perhaps not a likable person, but certainly not evil.